As a robust economy and a business-friendly nation, Canada is motivated to promote the immigration of successful business owners and entrepreneurs. With a low corporate tax rate and a broad base of consumers, it's easy to see why Canada is a compelling option for businesspeople seeking to relocate.
What is Business Immigration?
Business immigration to Canada is an excellent option for investors or business owners seeking to relocate to the nation. While Canada does not offer "golden visas" or similar programs that allow for residency status based on providing venture capital to Canadian companies, the business immigration system establishes a practical path to citizenship for owners and executives. The business immigration program has been specifically created to encourage individuals who are driven to explore new challenges and opportunities here in Canada. The program operates through the permanent residency application process, but is geared towards the admission of those business minded individuals. There are multiple services offered by both provincial, territorial and federal governments that assist in settling and starting a business in Canada.
Business immigration is a specific immigration path available to businessmen and women who qualify for one of three separate categories. This option makes it possible for entrepreneurs to relocate to Canada more reliably than other immigration channels. The Canadian government created this system to attract intelligent and productive immigrants to the nation's workforce.
The Business Immigration Program is complex, with different requirements for each program. Choosing the ideal path is a vital step toward a successful application, so we'll analyze each of the available options in the following few sections of this guide. As you read, consider which option is most suited to your strengths and background.
While it is always wise to consult a legal professional before starting any immigration application, it can also be helpful to conduct independent research. The Canadian immigration system is complex, and several options are available to those seeking business immigration to Canada. Depending on the applicant's individual priorities and circumstances, different options may be preferable.
This guide will provide an overview of each business immigration path and discuss some advantages and disadvantages. The first few sections below will cover important background information on the Canadian immigration system and business immigration to Canada. Then, we'll cover each separate avenue available to applicants.
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Important Note About Quebec
While this guide will explain a lot about the business immigration process in Canada, the information provided does not apply to the province of Quebec. This province maintains its own immigration system separate from the rest of Canada, so we recommend finding a guide specific to Quebec if you plan to live there.
Requirements for Canadian Citizenship
In order to understand the value of the Business Immigration Program, it's essential first to understand the requirements for obtaining citizenship in Canada. First, the applicant must prove that they spent three of the last five years on Canadian soil and have paid taxes in the country.
Additionally, applicants must pass a test relating to general knowledge of Canada, as well as a language skills test. Fluency in either French or English will meet this standard. Finally, the applicant must also have permanent resident status in Canada before qualifying for citizenship. There are however, some differences between Canadian citizenship and permanent residency. You can learn more about that in this related article. The final requirement is the most difficult to comply with, but fortunately, the Business Immigration Program can help.
Options for Business Immigration
Within the system of business immigration to Canada, there are three separate paths available to prospective immigrants. Each track carries different requirements and restrictions, so it's crucial to understand each approach fully before beginning your application. The following sections of this article will provide an overview of each path and its requirements.
One of the most commonly discussed paths within business immigration to Canada, the Express Entry Program is a viable option for many professionals. However, this program has two separate paths targeting different demographics. Because of this division, many prospective immigrants only research one of the available paths and mistakenly assume they do not qualify.
The first type of express entry is the professional stream. This program makes it easier for young professionals to gain residency in Canada. The requirements for this program include being under 35 years of age and possessing strong language skills and an advanced degree. However, older professionals should not give up on this program without first exploring executive express entry.
The second type of express entry, executive, specifically targets senior-level management and executives. Although the process involves several steps and can be lengthy, this path is an excellent way for business owners or entrepreneurs seeking permanent residence in Canada. However, the process can be complex, so the following sections of this guide will cover the steps involved in pursuing Executive Express Entry to Canada. Before you read on however, be sure to visit this page on the Express Entry application process. It’s a bookmark worthy piece that detailed all of the steps and documents required to apply.
Owning a Canadian Business
The first requirement for Executive Express Entry is ownership of a Canadian business. This step requires a significant investment, but there are several methods to meet this requirement. For example, investors can choose to purchase a controlling share of an existing Canadian company or open a franchised business on Canadian soil.
While the methods above can save time, it can be more cost-effective for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses in Canada. While this method carries the lowest upfront cost, it lengthens the process by adding a one-year waiting period to prove the business is viable. Starting a new business also requires a higher time investment than other options, but the rewards can make it worthwhile. Regardless of which strategy you choose, the business will need to employ at least one Canadian citizen and achieve the status of an active company in Canada. You will also need to educate yourself and your partner/employees on Small Business Protection Laws in Canada.
Once an applicant has met the requirements to participate in the Executive Express Entry program, the next step is to apply for a work permit. Applicants must provide proof of their ownership of a Canadian business and select the type of work permit they want to pursue. Once the applicant receives their work permit, they can begin operating their company in Canada as a foreign worker.
Work Permit Processing Time
The Canadian government makes it extremely simple to find out what the processing times are for not work permit applications, but all of them. This page contains two drop down menus: 1 for application type, and 1 for the specific program. Once “Get processing time” is clicked, the system automatically generates the expected waiting period. These periods are updated weekly, so you can count on accuracy.
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Establish that the Business is Active and Operating
The next step for an applicant seeking permanent residence through the Executive Express Entry program is simply running their business. Depending on whether the applicant purchased a company or started their own, the program may require the business to operate for different periods. However, regardless of how ownership is acquired, the business will need to meet the requirements of an active Canadian business.
Achieving active business status in Canada means meeting a few basic requirements, but none of them should pose a serious problem. An active business must be fully licensed to operate in Canada, be selling goods to customers in the country, and have a physical location on Canadian soil. Additionally, the business must employ at least one Canadian citizen who is not related to the applicant. Once your business is up and running, you’ll want to become an expert in small business metrics to keep it operating smoothly. We highly recommend saving this article in order to learn how that’s done.
Once the business is active and operational, the next step is to apply for permanent residency. As the manager of a Canadian company, applicants are eligible for permanent residence as long as they meet the required criteria. These standards include passing a language test and medical examination, as well as possessing a clean legal record and a high school diploma.
While permanent residency is not the ultimate goal for most immigrants, it provides a reliable path to citizenship in Canada. In addition, permanent residency allows businesspeople and entrepreneurs to establish a connection to the community and grow their businesses on Canadian soil.
Summary of Express Entry
Overall, the Professional Express Entry Program is a viable path toward permanent residency for many immigrants seeking business immigration to Canada. With no set upfront cost, this path is available to a higher percentage of applicants than other paths. Unfortunately, the professional path is only available to younger prospective immigrants, so older applicants must consider the Executive Program.
For older applicants, the path demands a significant investment, as Executive Express Entry requires applicants to hold ownership in a Canadian business and operate it for a specified length of time, both expensive propositions. This option is ideal for established investors and business owners, but the start-up business program is likely easier for those new to the market.
Still, Express Entry is one of the best available options for immigration to Canada, offering a relatively quick path to permanent residency. While the language requirements can be an obstacle for some applicants, the timeline of a year to a year and a half to earn permanent residence makes Express entry a compelling option.
An alternative path to business immigration to Canada is the Provincial Nominee System. Through this process, individual provinces can support applicants for immigration with the understanding that the applicant will live and work in the province. This system gives provinces an excellent way to attract talented individuals to their area and continue to bring the world's best and brightest to Canada.
Prospective immigrants can start by choosing a province where they would like to live and filing an official document expressing their interest. This step is a crucial decision, as this process requires applicants to sign a performance agreement committing to working or operating a business within the province. Therefore, applicants should choose an area they feel comfortable living and working in and feel their business can thrive.
While the process may vary slightly from province to province, the general steps remain the same. After the applicant expresses interest, the province selects attractive candidates and invites them to apply. Once they file an application, provinces typically conduct an interview with the candidate, and if the interview goes well, the applicant will have the opportunity to apply for a work permit.
With a work permit, immigrants can enter Canada and begin operating their businesses in their selected province. However, the performance agreement signed by both parties will require the immigrant to fulfill a set of requirements to satisfy the deal. Once the applicant completes the requirements, they will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency and begin their life in Canada.
Summary of Provincial Nomination
While provincial nomination is a legitimate option for immigrants seeking business immigration to Canada, prospective applicants should consider a few downsides. First, this type of immigration forces the applicant to rely on the province's decision, as they must be selected to even apply. This factor can make provincial nomination more competitive than other options for immigration.
Additionally, a provincial nomination is significantly more restrictive than other business immigration paths. Because of the performance agreement, applicants are bound to fulfill their promises and remain in business in Canada for a specified time. Finally, this path restricts immigrants to living within the province that offered them nomination, limiting their ability to relocate or adjust plans.
Still, a provincial nomination is a compelling option for prospective immigrants who may not qualify under other programs. The program effectively draws quality candidates to Canada, providing cultural and industrial benefits. Ultimately, the Provincial Nomination Program is worth considering for applicants with limited capital. Still, the other paths may be preferable if purchasing a controlling stake in a company is a viable option.
Start-Up Business Class Immigration
Another effective way to attain business immigration to Canada is by starting a business in the country. The Start-up Visa Program offers a simple path to permanent residency for prospective immigrants who plan to operate their own businesses in Canada. This program incentivizes the growth of Canadian industry and attracts talented individuals to the country.
Regarding the business immigration system, the term ‘start-up business’ has a specific definition. The company must plan to operate within Canada and receive financial support from Canadian investors to meet this criterion. If the investment comes from a designated investor, the total amount invested must reach $75,000. However, for businesses relying on venture capital, the limit rises to $200,000.
The term ‘designated entity’ or ‘designated investor’ refers to a list of trusted Canadian investors and business incubators. These actors are considered reliable by the Canadian government, which therefore gives their input significant weight. Gaining the support of a designated entity is a critical step toward building a successful application.
Once the applicant has secured the backing of a designated entity or venture capital firm, the next step is signing a commitment. A commitment is a binding agreement to start a business within Canada. These commitments must be backed by the involved designated entities and sent with the application for processing.
Participating in this program requires meeting the criteria to be considered a start-up business, which means securing funding from Canadian nationals. Still, this is often the most cost-effective option for business immigration, as the other available options involve purchasing a significant stake in an existing company. While starting a new business is certainly not cheap, it can be more affordable than buying a sizable portion of shares.
Requirements for Start-Up Business Immigration
Qualifying for the Start-Up Business Visa Program requires applicants to meet several criteria. First, all applicants must achieve a CLB5 language level in one of the primary languages in Canada, English or French. While this standard may be a barrier for some applicants, it is still lower than the requirements for some other immigration methods.
Next, the program requires applicants to acquire at least one letter from a designated organization. We've already discussed this term, but these organizations are trusted Canadian investors and business incubators that can provide support to immigration applications. Their support gives the Canadian government confidence in the applicant's viability and reflects positively on the outlook for the proposed business.
This requirement means that earning the support of a designated entity is a vital part of the process of this immigration path. For this reason, applicants who build a convincing and eye-catching pitch for their planned business are more likely to succeed. In addition, researching the ideal investors for the specific type of business you plan to operate can also be very helpful.
Typical medical and security checks also apply, but the final unique criteria for qualifying for start-up business immigration is proof of sufficient funds for the relocation. Canada needs to ensure that applicants have budgeted appropriately for the move, so the typical required amount is $10,000 for the initial applicant and $2,500 for each additional member of the family.
Once an application is accepted, the process works similarly to the options discussed above. The applicant will be able to enter the country and begin operating their business, with opportunities for permanent residency after running the business and reaching active status.
Benefits of Start-Up Business Immigration
Participation in the Start-up Business Immigration Program brings multiple benefits. First, applicants in this program are not required to make a minimum investment, as the only requirement is an operating business. This step can still be a significant expense, but this program offers far more flexibility than alternatives.
Another advantage of this program is that it does not require applicants to live in a specific province or area. The permanent residency granted by this program allows applicants to start their business anywhere they want and even move it if needed. This flexibility is valuable, especially when compared to the rigid structure of provincial nominations.
Summary of Start-Up Business Class Immigration
While pursuing start-up business class immigration can be a riskier option than other alternatives, its advantages are also worth considering. As the option with the lowest up-front cost, the program gives intrepid entrepreneurs a valuable opportunity to build a business from the ground up in their new home country.
However, it's important to mention that the process of starting a business in an unfamiliar market is a significant undertaking. While the flexibility to live anywhere in the country may make this option preferable to a provincial nomination, express entry options offer more stability than the start-up business program.
Stay Up to Date
While this guide has taught you a lot about business immigration to Canada, it's essential to keep in mind that these rules depend on policy in the nation. Immigration reforms can dramatically change the process, so stay updated on the latest legislation relating to immigration. Because of this variability, it's essential to research several sources regarding the immigration path you plan to use.
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What to Do Next
Once you make Canada your new home, you'll have a lot to look forward to. With beautiful scenery, friendly people, and delicious food, Canada is a wonderful place to call home. However, there are always differences when moving to a new country, so setting up insurance and banking can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Insurdinary can help.
While Canada offers excellent healthcare to all citizens and permanent residents, the system is not as simple as it appears. For example, private insurance providers are responsible for covering dental services and some prescription medications. This coverage is crucial for preventative care, so finding private insurance is an important part of starting a new life in Canada.
Insurdinary is a helpful service that compares the best insurance rates from Canadian providers. The service can also assist customers in comparing credit card and loan options and can even help find mortgages. Once your business immigration to Canada is complete, fill out our quote form to get insurance rates in your new home country.